Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My favorite road trip experience (and how I survived traveling w/kids) #DiscountTire

Family vacations are something that we look forward to.  They don't happen very often, but when they do, we want to make sure everything is perfect.  We have been to Disney twice.  The first time we flew down (my first time flying... ever!) and the second time we chose to drive down.  That second trip is one of my favorite road trip experiences.  It was not without some kid-squabbling, but overall, we managed to survive the road trip with our sanity intact!  We ate at a Cracker Barrel in North Carolina and the food wasn't that good.  We laughed every time we saw a Cracker Barrel sign the rest of the way --- and it seemed like there was one every 30 miles the whole way down I95.

We detoured into Daytona and AIA Beachfront Avenue was pretty deserted.  The kids wanted to see the Atlantic, and had never seen it before, so we stopped and walked to the beach.  We picked up some beach shells.  It was an overcast day, so a bit disappointing.  We tried again on our way back at a different spot on Daytona's beach, but didn't find anything other than a very scary area that made us very nervous.  This is what we get for not going during Spring Break, I guess! 

Aside from our misadventures in Daytona, our Disney trip was a complete blast.  The car ride wasn't so bad after all, though I think next time, I'll fly or find a train to the Sunshine State.

Here are a few of the things that we did to make the trip enjoyable for all.

1.  We made sure the car was roadworthy.  After all, we were traveling several hundred miles from home.  Our tires were in good condition and the car was a relatively new purchase.  We topped off the tanks - windshield wiper fluid and gas - and used the car's electronic sensors to ensure that our tires were optimally aired.  Since our minivan was purchased about two weeks before our departure, we hadn't driven it a very long distance.  So, we made sure that our towing coverage was adequate... just in case. 

2.  Part of the road worthiness of the car included making sure the DVD player was working correctly and that we packed batteries that could replace any in the headphones the kids were using.  A girl can only take cartoon dialogue for just so long, so this was a must.  In addition, we listened to our satellite radio on the way down, something very nice since we didn't have to try to find a new station every so often as we crossed from one state to another.  We also made sure we packed an equal number of videos for each kid so that neither had to watch too many "girl" or "boy" videos in a row.

3.  Perhaps not my daughter's favorite part of the trip was the homework.  Since we were going to be gone a whole week, we arranged to have her home work ahead of time.  We packed everything and took a small TV table with us so that she could work on her homework in the car on the way down.  This was good for us since we remembered how much of a struggle it was to get her to do any course work the last time we went to Disney.  So, this last time, we made sure she worked on the bulk of it while we were driving south.  Before we even arrived, she was almost finished.

4.  We weren't afraid to stop at unscheduled places.  We stopped several places along the way to get food and take in the local flora and fauna.  We never did stop at 'South of the Border', but we did tick off the miles as we got closer to it.  Maybe next time!  Those ubiquitous road signs are something that we will forever remember about our trip to Disney.

5.  Travel in your PJs!  We traveled mostly by day during the trip down and by night on the way back.  We had the kids change into their PJs to make stopping at the hotel a lot easier for us.  We also packed one bag of clothes to be taken in with us, and kept our toiletry bag handy.  This was very helpful for the short overnight stay and helped us to not have to unload everything, only to load it right back into the car the next day.  Since our son was still using Pull-ups overnight, we made sure he had one on at night to avoid any accidents.  Plus, it bought us a little time when there were long stretches of road between rest stops and he told us, not five minutes after passing one, that he had to go.... now!

Traveling with kids can be difficult, but I have found that planning ahead and making transitions from car to hotel the easiest possible goes a long way toward family harmony.  Have a safe and happy holiday traveling season!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Discount Tire blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card and be entered for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
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